America's Music: Session 2 ~ Broadway and Tin Pan Alley

Monday, May 20, 2013

6:00 PM-8:15 PM

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903

Meeting Room (3rd Floor)

Mon, 2013-05-20 18:00 - 20:15

America's Music is a six-week series of public programs created by the Tribeca Film Institute® in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in consultation with the Society for American Music.

The programs feature documentary screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th century American popular music. The six sessions focus on uniquely American musical genres: blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock 'n' roll, and mambo and hip hop.


Overview: Tin Pan Alley, originally an area along 28th Street in New York City, became the center of American music publishing in the mid-1890s. Tin Pan Alley songs were sentimental, formulaic, catchy, and extremely popular. After the First World War, Tin Pan Alley accommodated the tastes of millions of new Americans who made the city the new center of a vital and flourishing popular culture based in the immigrant experience. Composers like George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Jerome Kern—and songwriting teams like Rodgers and Hart—rose to the challenge of adapting popular songs to the demands of theatrical narrative and ushered in a golden age of sophisticated lyrics and melodies for Broadway productions.

A discussion of the film will take place after the screening led by Micah Salkind, a Providence Rhode Island-based writer, DJ and sound designer. As Director of Public Programs at The Providence Black Repertory Company between 2005 and 2008, he worked with representatives from Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism to establish Providence Sound Session, a flagship free/low-cost summer music festival for the City.

 Salkind is pursuing a Ph.D in American Studies at Brown University. His scholarly work on Afro-Diasporic cultural production, which has recently included articles South African popular music and global House dance culture, complements his work towards establishing innovative models for sustaining community art institutions and art-makers with local and state funders.


Broadway: The American Musical, Episode 2, directed by Michael Kantor (2004)

This episode of the Emmy Award-winning series focuses on the Jazz Age, Broadway’s most prolific era. In the 1920s, Broadway showcased the sweeping changes transforming American culture: new roles for women; the mix of social classes in Prohibition speakeasies; creative opportunities for African Americans in jazz clubs. The descendants of Jewish immigrants—including the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers and Hart—combined the syncopated rhythms of jazz with lyrics that established a vibrant, witty new American argot. Their music became big business and rode newly emerging technological innovation to unprecedented national influence.

Link to Essay 

Additional Documentary Films



Online Resources

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